Surprise aggression

Discussion in 'Bernese Mountain Dog Pictures Forum' started by Kmeyer416, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. Kmeyer416

    Kmeyer416 New Member

    Samson is now 18 months old and is a wonderful dog. I hike with him and a group of dogs daily (some known, some new each day depending) for about 2 hours off-leash. He loves it and runs and plays well with these dogs. We also do leash walks every week. He started being aggressive towards dogs his size or larger when he is on a leash about 6 months ago, and gradually he has also started acting the same towards dogs of any size when he is on a leash, or if the other dog is on a leash and Sam is not. Of course I don't like this behavior (lunging while growling, and I have to pull him away). Now, just in the past month he has surprised us 3 times now by all of a sudden, growling at people, putting his ears down and acting like he is going to bite them (or maybe just warning them?). We don't let it go any further and quickly pull him away from the person. But these people are known to him and were just petting him nicely or crouching down with their hands out to let him smell them, to say hi. He has been very well socialized since he was a 10-week old puppy when we got him. He is a big goof ball and so sweet that when he has acted like this everyone is totally shocked. Perhaps we have 2 separate issues here? is the leash problem, and the other is a new aggression problem for some reason such as a stage he is going thru or maybe he is sick? He seems totally healthy and got a check up at the vet last month. This past weekend we spent the entire day at a party with about 20 people mostly new people for him and he was an angel. Just wondering if anyone has any suggestions for me. Thank you!:confused:
  2. BernerMax

    BernerMax New Member

    Besides pulling him away, what is your reaction to his aggression to other dogs? Are you neutral and just contain, do you correct him? Just curious, it might frame the feedback you get and gives us more info on how to help you--
    BTW our 14 month old is just started back on leash walking (we let his walking lapse once we moved to 2 acres in the country and noticed he started being shy and aggressive to male dogs, and fence barking)... and am noticing with firm containment (my husband is 270 lbs dog is not going anywhere when he attempts to lunge) and also that we dont let him meet other dogs while on leash (we moved from SF, he used to go to the dog park daily off leash until the age of 6 months and we have 2 other socialized dogs), and we have been praising him when he just walks by the other (onleash) dog without lunging or growling and give him a treat, his behavior has improved ... That is our experience so far... also our Maxie in Not neutered, and we would like to keep him that way.... Not sure if your boy is or not.....
    PS he was getting very shy around strangers as well, but not growling like yours -- I noticed once he knew on walks while he was leashed (I think he may feel more vulnerable while restrained) and he realized we were not going to force other dogs and strangers on him, he relaxed - while he still is amped with other dogs (on leash, on walks) I noticed today he was friendly and relaxed with strangers on the trail and actually wanting to meet them (we walk at a state park with a museum site on it, it was quite busy today)....
    we dont need him to be super accepting of other dogs, we actually use him as a Livestock guardian for our free range chickens and outdoor cats.... but just wanted him more socialized, well rounded so to speak....
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  3. Kmeyer416

    Kmeyer416 New Member

    Samson is fixed. I pull Samson away from the person or dog that he is growling at, saying 'no' or 'bad 'dog', make him sit and and then say 'good dog'. There was one other time (the last episode which was 5 days ago) where he acted aggressive to 3 different dogs in succession at the end of a hike when we met up with other dogs that were hiking with their owners. We know those dogs and people, and all the dogs including Sam were running and playing for about 10 minutes (this is after a 1 1/2 hr hike). Then we gave some treats and Sam all of a sudden lunged at one dog, I pulled him away, he lunged at another that came near, and then another. I was so upset that I pulled him far away and then pinned him on the ground and yelled at him. I held him there till the people got their dogs to the cars and then let him up and put him on his leash. I know many say that this isn't the right way to handle berners, and I felt bad afterwards, but I was so scared and upset to see my sweet, goofy dog acting so aggressive.
  4. BernerMax

    BernerMax New Member

    Just lost my incredibly long response, sigh....

    Hi again kmeyer-
    my Maxie I recalculated, is really almost 17 months old, so maybe this is a growth and development thing for young Berners?!
    That said, the shortish version of what I just wrote out and LOST ... is try to move him thru the Bad (contain the lunges, awlk him by rapidly when he is growling you are getting him away from the trigger)-- and REWARD the good-- ie try to catch some time he is able to walk by without lunging and growling and praise/ reward THAT (you are trying to Mark the good and ignore/ extunguish the Bad).. I know its hard hang in there--

    Our maxie started fencing barking with out reactive super guardy/ paranoid giant schnauzer (she commutes to the city with me 3 days/wk so she knows to turn this off when we are walking or at the Urban dog park)-- we use him as a Flock Guardian for our free range chickens and outdoor cats-- he is doing a great job and no predator losses yet....
    but this onleash dog aggression took us by surprise as well-- I think in our case, he just has to learn that the rules are different when he is on walks with his people--
    Also for us,
    once he realized the other dogs are on leash and he wouldnt HAVE to interact with them or their people (besides a friendly wave and pass by on the trail) he relaxed alot, and this last walk even started tail wagging at the people on the trail (its busy trail)-- but still reactive to other dogs we are still working on that too...
    Maybe start by limiting his access to other dogs on walks? As he is demonstrating he does not want this / is dominant/uncomfortable over them?

    Would love to hear how other berner owners worked through this as well, as I am not a expert dog trainer.....
  5. Kmeyer416

    Kmeyer416 New Member

    Thanks for your replies. I hope others will chime in and let us know if they have any suggestions or ideas.
  6. BernerMax

    BernerMax New Member

    well I read thru some European dog bks and found a really good website that has a good set of info pages... actually this sharp and territorial temprament is the original homestead guardian nature of the dog that they have been trying to breed away from for years (wish I had known that)...... which makes sense actually, but good luck.... we will probably get our boy neutered anyways but really am not sure its going to drastically change anything....
  7. smile meadow

    smile meadow New Member

    Hi, I have no experience with this aggressive behavior so I really don't have anything to add. I did adopt an entire male Berg at 5 years and have never had a moments aggression with him toward any dog or human, no matter the circumstances. I took him to several dog classes for stuff that was familiar to him but not to me, so I would better be able to understand how he might relate to me, other dogs and people. He did one time have a profound fear reaction with a Siberian Husky. Berg's previous owner raised and raced with that breed and I wondered if he just felt intimidated by them, however Berg's fear was substantiated when this Husky attacked the vet who was using our dogs for a conformation demonstration. When we are out in public my dogs are on leash or held in their own x-pen except when we are free walking and I have checked with other walkers to see if everyone is comfortable with the situation. I also am more inclined to use petting and a welcoming friendly voice rather then food treats when other dogs are about, no need to inspire a food fight.
  8. moondoggie

    moondoggie New Member

    Ok hopefully i can add some helpful tips. My Male Berner is 1 yr now but at 10 got very aggressive even towards his family. Now everyone will chime in well how much exercise was he getting so let me say enough. He was well trained but needed neutering and clicker training. He became alit better then at a year started perimeter barking around the fenced area & deck. I used a pot & wooden spoon to make noise and tell the quiet command it work for a couple times then back to barking. Now im going to an ultrasonic bark deterrent will up again. He is good for me but is nippy & hoppy when over excited still disciplining will update. Good luck these are not higly.discussed issues before we all bought into breed.
  9. summersnowbr

    summersnowbr Active Member

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